Florida Republicans Plan to Cut Medicaid
The Florida government is running a $3 billion budget deficit going into the new legislative session. The Florida constitution demands that the budget be balanced. Which is why Florida House Speaker Dean Cannon called tax cuts a "top priority."
We also asked Cannon about how the Legislature can afford to approve tax cuts or incentives for businesses this year after news this week that the state's budget shortfall is $3 billion or more.
"It is something that is literally the top priority," Cannon said. "Finding out where to make those cuts and how to make those policy changes to support them is the biggest item, I think, in the windscreen of the Legislature right now."
Incoming Florida Gov. Rick Scott has made the campaign promise of a 19 percent property tax cut. Property taxes have become regressive in Florida. Reform is needed. It is hard to see how Scott can pull off that big of a tax cut when the budget shortfall. It weren't work, but I have no doubt Scott and the Republicans in the Florida legislature will push for tax cuts. Damn the consequences.
Cannon and other Florida Republicans are planning to pay for the tax cuts by cutting Medicaid. There is nothing Democrats in the Florida legislature can do about it. Sen. Joe Negron is planning $2 billion in Medicaid cuts.
Sen. Joe Negron, R-Stuart, who chairs the Senate health budget committee, said he expects to have to trim $1 billion to $2 billion in healthcare costs. He said he is targeting ``soft'' services, such as payments to consultants who don't provide direct care to patients.
Administrative costs do eat up a portion of health care funding. I doubt Negron is going to find $2 billion in savings. Arizona Gov. Jan Brewer cut Medicaid costs by refusing to cover transplant surgery. Brewer has refused to call a special session to address the issue. Brewer's policy has placed the lives of people needing transplants at risk. Brewer dismissed the complaints of patients to Think Progress.
Brewer is incorrect about only bone marrow patients not being able to get transplants. Randy Shepherd is in need of a heart transplant. Tiffany Tate fears that if she doesn't get a transplant she will die.
This is the kind of Medicaid we are going to get in Florida if Republicans have their way. J.D. Alexander makes the debunked argument of trickle down economics.
``It's too early to speak to that, one way or the other,'' said Senate Budget Chairman JD Alexander, R-Lake Wales. ``Clearly, putting more money in people's pockets helps them to grow business and feed their families. But, that said, we are facing a fairly challenging economic situation.''
Florida has a tax system that provides tax cuts for stadium luxury suites and yachts. Yet Floridians will see Medicaid cut by Republicans that have long made their contempt for government health care well known. People should be very worried. I'm sorry, but Rick Scott and Dean Cannon are the last two people I want to be making decisions on health care.